Motorway suicide 'stress-related'

Stephanie Bottrill was struck by a lorry on the M6

Stephanie Bottrill was struck by a lorry on the M6

First published in National News © by

A coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide over the death of a woman hit by a lorry who left her family a note apparently saying the so-called "bedroom tax" had caused her "considerable anxiety and stress".

Stephanie Bottrill, 52, walked across a motorway and climbed a safety barrier early on the morning of May 4 last year and died of multiple injuries suffered in the collision.

The area coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, Zafar Siddique, said: "Given the evidence of notes left of her intention, I am satisfied she intended to take her own life."

The case of Ms Bottrill, of Meriden Drive, Kingshurst in Solihull, West Midlands, made national newspaper headlines after son Steven Bottrill claimed she had blamed the Government's housing policy for her actions in a suicide note - specifically the spare room subsidy or "bedroom tax".

The former postal worker, who lived alone in a three-bed terrace home, agreed to see her GP the day before her death, after her family expressed concern.

Mr Siddique, summing up the evidence of Dr Bindu Nair, said that when Ms Bottrill attended, accompanied by daughter Laura Bottrill, she had been "clear-headed" and given a frank account of a history of anxiety.

"She informed me she had called her children in the early hours of May 3 2013, saying she couldn't cope with the stress and wanted to end it all, and had written a note planning to jump off a bridge," the GP said, in his statement to the coroner.

Dr Nair added: "She expressed unhappiness at being pushed by the housing department to make a decision in half an hour, in reference to being made to move into a smaller property."

He added that Ms Bottrill was "happy to move but it was the way in which she was forced to make a decision" which had caused her "considerable anxiety and stress".

Today's inquest into Ms Bottrill's death at Birmingham Coroners Court heard she had the option of a move from her home of 20 years, to another a smaller property in Sheldon, Birmingham.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council said Ms Bottrill must have been "confused" about the location of the home, as it does not offer homes in Birmingham, adding there would never have been a scenario where she would be asked to make a quick decision.

A council spokesman also said Ms Bottrill had never been "forced" into any move.

Medical notes revealed she had been suffering with "stress and depression from her life circumstances" since 1993.

In 2005 she took an overdose of anti-depressants, said Mr Siddique, and in June 2010 was prescribed diazepam for anxiety over a neighbour dispute.

Ms Bottrill said she was "still coming to terms about whether to move or have to pay extra to stay in her current property," said Dr Nair.

The GP concluded she was "not clinically depressed" and "had shown insight into her problems", agreeing to come back to see the doctor a few days later.

A police investigation into the collision concluded there was nothing the lorry driver could have done to avoid Ms Bottrill as she stepped into the truck's path on the M6 southbound, between junction 4a and 4, just before 6.15am.

In notes left for family, summarised by Mr Siddique, Ms Bottrill had made clear that it was " because of the housing changes she felt under considerable anxiety and stress," he said.

After the inquest, her brother Kevin Owens said "For social housing to work it needs for everybody to take a turn.

"When you're adequately housed by successive governments, and your needs are met, you must give somebody else a turn

"It's terrible that people in this country are cramped into one and two-bedroom flats with children while other people sit on three bedroom houses.

"Our thoughts go out to the lorry driver whose life has been blighted by this, and we just wanted to pass on our thoughts to him."

Mr Owens also disputed his sister's claim of being forced into a decision.

"She wasn't prepared to give somebody else a chance as far as I'm concerned," he added.

"For social housing to work it's a system where people need to take their turn and when their turn is over they need to pass those houses on.

"Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before.

"It might have been the catalyst to push her but, was it just an excuse she was looking for? - That's all I've got to say."

A Solihull council spokesman said there was "never a requirement for Ms Bottrill to move".

Houses were not imposed on people, rather householders selected from a list of available properties, made bids on their choices and in Ms Bottrill's case she had been successful with two properties, they said.

"The last contact we had with Ms Bottrill (on May 2, 2013) was that she wanted to talk about moving," the spokesman said.

"It was never a situation where she would have been asked to make a decision in half an hour."

Ms Bottrill had also been eligible for a £3,000 discretionary housing payment - a type of grant aimed at covering the costs of moving home.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was "a tragic case and our sympathies are with Mrs Bottrill's family".

"The council was working closely and supporting Ms Bottrill with the changes."

The DWP added ending the spare room subsidy had been "absolutely necessary to get the soaring housing benefit bill under control, returning fairness to the system and making better use of social housing stock".

The rules had already applied to housing benefit claimants in private rentals, they said, adding £345m was available to councils to support vulnerable people affected by the reforms.

Comments (16)

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3:43am Tue 12 Aug 14

beach1e says...

Very sad that this lady chose to take her life, also very sad that her family couldnt or didnt help her ,also a great shame that none of the agencies helped to get her a home that was more affordable. many people are in the same position but with mortgages and they have no choice but to downsize if they can sell as they dont have the luxury of being state funded.
Very sad that this lady chose to take her life, also very sad that her family couldnt or didnt help her ,also a great shame that none of the agencies helped to get her a home that was more affordable. many people are in the same position but with mortgages and they have no choice but to downsize if they can sell as they dont have the luxury of being state funded. beach1e
  • Score: -5

7:17am Tue 12 Aug 14

greenfinger says...

This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds.

I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort.

It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step.
This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds. I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort. It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step. greenfinger
  • Score: -6

7:19am Tue 12 Aug 14

greenfinger says...

This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds.

I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort.

It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step.
This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds. I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort. It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step. greenfinger
  • Score: -4

8:14am Tue 12 Aug 14

ace reporter says...

Hopefully the Coroner will determine if this really was the motivation for taking her own life. It is nothing like someone in private sector downsizing, they will have equity and choice. Bedroom tax is grossly unfair as it targets the most economically vulnerable dependent on benefits and pretends to aspire to noble aims while fact remains there are not enough social housing units of the right size to enable people to move, hence they are trapped paying the tax. It's like kicking a tramp in the gutter, normal Tory behaviour.
Hopefully the Coroner will determine if this really was the motivation for taking her own life. It is nothing like someone in private sector downsizing, they will have equity and choice. Bedroom tax is grossly unfair as it targets the most economically vulnerable dependent on benefits and pretends to aspire to noble aims while fact remains there are not enough social housing units of the right size to enable people to move, hence they are trapped paying the tax. It's like kicking a tramp in the gutter, normal Tory behaviour. ace reporter
  • Score: 3

8:23am Tue 12 Aug 14

cromwell9 says...

I dont agree with the bedroom tax .I think its petty and nasty.
Just because private Landlords can get away with charging exstortionetate rates of rent ,dose not mean the social rents have to follow.
This law I think has cost this lady her life.How would you feel if you could not put food on the table after living in your home for 25 yrs ,just because this government got spitefull and changed the rules.
Its the same for the disabled ,they have a spare room for family etc to stay .
They are also discriminated against,.
I am not a Labour /Lib Dem.I am a UKIP supporter.This bedroom tax is evil.
I dont agree with the bedroom tax .I think its petty and nasty. Just because private Landlords can get away with charging exstortionetate rates of rent ,dose not mean the social rents have to follow. This law I think has cost this lady her life.How would you feel if you could not put food on the table after living in your home for 25 yrs ,just because this government got spitefull and changed the rules. Its the same for the disabled ,they have a spare room for family etc to stay . They are also discriminated against,. I am not a Labour /Lib Dem.I am a UKIP supporter.This bedroom tax is evil. cromwell9
  • Score: 6

8:45am Tue 12 Aug 14

llos25 says...

greenfinger wrote:
This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds.

I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort.

It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step.
I have never read such rubbish of course its do with the bedroom tax different people react in different ways.I hope one day you are in the same position.
[quote][p][bold]greenfinger[/bold] wrote: This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds. I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort. It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step.[/p][/quote]I have never read such rubbish of course its do with the bedroom tax different people react in different ways.I hope one day you are in the same position. llos25
  • Score: 7

9:03am Tue 12 Aug 14

nigelej says...

beach1e wrote:
Very sad that this lady chose to take her life, also very sad that her family couldnt or didnt help her ,also a great shame that none of the agencies helped to get her a home that was more affordable. many people are in the same position but with mortgages and they have no choice but to downsize if they can sell as they dont have the luxury of being state funded.
There is no where for them to downsize to . Don't be fooled if you are being told different I have a sister who's husband died last year she pays and always have paid full rent . She now receives letters every month asking her to move . Yet when she she phones and says that's fine I'm happy to she is told clearly there is no where for her to move its rediculas
[quote][p][bold]beach1e[/bold] wrote: Very sad that this lady chose to take her life, also very sad that her family couldnt or didnt help her ,also a great shame that none of the agencies helped to get her a home that was more affordable. many people are in the same position but with mortgages and they have no choice but to downsize if they can sell as they dont have the luxury of being state funded.[/p][/quote]There is no where for them to downsize to . Don't be fooled if you are being told different I have a sister who's husband died last year she pays and always have paid full rent . She now receives letters every month asking her to move . Yet when she she phones and says that's fine I'm happy to she is told clearly there is no where for her to move its rediculas nigelej
  • Score: 6

10:08am Tue 12 Aug 14

cliffwalker says...

The bedroom tax cannot be blamed for this poor woman's death. But there is no doubt that it is a tax imposed by the well off on the most disadvantaged people in our community to pay for the recent excesses of the well off. Imagine having to cut down on basic foodstuffs for the price of a mid range bottle of champagne each week.
The bedroom tax cannot be blamed for this poor woman's death. But there is no doubt that it is a tax imposed by the well off on the most disadvantaged people in our community to pay for the recent excesses of the well off. Imagine having to cut down on basic foodstuffs for the price of a mid range bottle of champagne each week. cliffwalker
  • Score: -4

10:27am Tue 12 Aug 14

Rotterdam says...

cliffwalker wrote:
The bedroom tax cannot be blamed for this poor woman's death. But there is no doubt that it is a tax imposed by the well off on the most disadvantaged people in our community to pay for the recent excesses of the well off. Imagine having to cut down on basic foodstuffs for the price of a mid range bottle of champagne each week.
What are you talking about? The woman herself blamed it, and if she (may she rest in peace) didn't know what was responsible, who does?
[quote][p][bold]cliffwalker[/bold] wrote: The bedroom tax cannot be blamed for this poor woman's death. But there is no doubt that it is a tax imposed by the well off on the most disadvantaged people in our community to pay for the recent excesses of the well off. Imagine having to cut down on basic foodstuffs for the price of a mid range bottle of champagne each week.[/p][/quote]What are you talking about? The woman herself blamed it, and if she (may she rest in peace) didn't know what was responsible, who does? Rotterdam
  • Score: 4

10:46am Tue 12 Aug 14

frankie007 says...

"Just days before dying, Miss Bottrill told neighbours in Meriden Drive she could barely afford to live while others spoke of having to take meals round because they were worried she was not eating."

Where was this poor woman's suddenly caring family while neighbours were having to take meals round?

Could their apparent lack of interest have been a contributory factor?
"Just days before dying, Miss Bottrill told neighbours in Meriden Drive she could barely afford to live while others spoke of having to take meals round because they were worried she was not eating." Where was this poor woman's suddenly caring family while neighbours were having to take meals round? Could their apparent lack of interest have been a contributory factor? frankie007
  • Score: -3

12:35pm Tue 12 Aug 14

Counterview says...

greenfinger wrote:
This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds.

I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort.

It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step.
So you are a consultant psychiatrist are you? Your insensitive posting displays an absolute absence of knowledge of mental health issues. Wait until the inquest verdict has been reached before coming to any ill considered judgements.
[quote][p][bold]greenfinger[/bold] wrote: This has nothing to do with "The Bedroom Tax, it is clearly a mindset issue and it's totally wrong to blame the tax. If the new housing rule is to blame why doesn't every single person resort to this? I think the reason is more down to mindset, some people are way smarter at changing and making up their own minds. I totally agree with the post above too (beach1e) It can be really distressing for someone who lives on a lovely new housing estate to have to sell and downscale. Again, a mindset issue where people think they need that level of comfort. It's really hard for any person to take what is perceived to be a backward step.[/p][/quote]So you are a consultant psychiatrist are you? Your insensitive posting displays an absolute absence of knowledge of mental health issues. Wait until the inquest verdict has been reached before coming to any ill considered judgements. Counterview
  • Score: -11

1:59pm Tue 12 Aug 14

welshmen says...

This Government owe all British citizens a duty of care, clearly they have failed again....
This Government owe all British citizens a duty of care, clearly they have failed again.... welshmen
  • Score: 30

5:32pm Tue 12 Aug 14

stevo!! says...

Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear:

""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. "

She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."
Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear: ""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. " She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety." stevo!!
  • Score: 3

7:52pm Tue 12 Aug 14

cliffwalker says...

stevo!! wrote:
Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear:

""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. "

She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."
"a sensible reduction in housing benefit" for the poorest to pay for the excesses of the richest.
[quote][p][bold]stevo!![/bold] wrote: Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear: ""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. " She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."[/p][/quote]"a sensible reduction in housing benefit" for the poorest to pay for the excesses of the richest. cliffwalker
  • Score: -2

8:28pm Tue 12 Aug 14

Counterview says...

stevo!! wrote:
Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear:

""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. "

She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."
So those of us who prefer the term "Bedroom Tax" are all idiots. Thank you, Einstein, for those pearls of wisdom. How long did it take you to learn this IDS mantra off pat? Someone of your obvious intellect should be sitting on the Government front bench - not trying to indoctrinate "thick" Northerners with yet more bilge.
[quote][p][bold]stevo!![/bold] wrote: Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear: ""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. " She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."[/p][/quote]So those of us who prefer the term "Bedroom Tax" are all idiots. Thank you, Einstein, for those pearls of wisdom. How long did it take you to learn this IDS mantra off pat? Someone of your obvious intellect should be sitting on the Government front bench - not trying to indoctrinate "thick" Northerners with yet more bilge. Counterview
  • Score: -1

10:21am Wed 13 Aug 14

crackoneoff says...

stevo!! wrote:
Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear:

""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. "

She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."
My sentiments exactly
[quote][p][bold]stevo!![/bold] wrote: Her brother said her death was nothing to do with the so-called Bedroom Tax (it's a term used by idiots to describe a sensible reduction in housing benefit it isn't a tax in any way, shape or form), as the report makes clear: ""Much has been written about 'bedroom tax' pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before. " She was clearly under stress over something and she had " a history of anxiety."[/p][/quote]My sentiments exactly crackoneoff
  • Score: 3
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